Changing Times – a Future Trend?

For my parent’s generation, Sunday was the day to go to church and visit family.

Blue Laws were in existence – stores were closed and folks basically took the day off. It was a day families headed to church together for worship, education, fellowship, youth group and the Sunday night potluck supper.

Times have changed. There are lots of choices. And time is a commodity not to be wasted. There is much to do on that “free day” of the week that has now taken precedence over what  Ozzie & Harriet and the kids would do on Sunday.

In today’s world, many of us work at home, at the office, at the store on Sunday. Or, shopping at the Mall, and sports – attending and participating in Soccer, Football, Basketball, Hockey, Cheerleading, and yes, even Marching Band is a sport.  And don’t forget those who just want to sleep in – it’s been an exhausting week.

So what’s a church to do? How can we provide Christian education classes when those who do come are only willing to give 60 minutes (2 hours tops) to the Sunday morning ritual.

Worship is important and is at the heart of Christian formation. So providing opportunities for families to worship together should be a priority. After all, education is formation and “praying shapes believing.” Lex orandi, lex credendi (Latin loosely translatable as the law of prayer is the law of belief).

I’ve noticed a new trend (which may be not-so-new in the South). Having education for all ages during the week! What a radical idea! This one just came through the news service: Church of the Redeemer in Sarasota, Florida bridges the gap between Sunday services and teaching youth that faith fellowship should be constant. In many communities I visit (again, in the South and Midwest – i.e. the Bible Belt), Wednesday nights are traditionally saved for church events. Schools and sports are not scheduled on these nights.

Here are some examples:

  • First United Methodist Church in Corpus Christi, Texas A Wednesday evening program providing food for the body and soul, Mid-Week Manna is an all-church Christian education program which meets September through December and January through April. F.R.O.G. and Tadpole, children’s activities, and meal service begin at 5:00 pm. Adult Christian education classes start at 6:00. Classes offering and instructors vary by semester. Many of the music groups are scheduled to rehearse on Wednesday evenings as well. Come find your place! For more information contact any clergy or ministry director.
  • Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Elwood, Nebraska. Midweek Christian Education meets Wednesday of every week from 6:30-8:00pm. Children ages 3 through high school are welcome to attend!
  • First Presbyterian Church in Pensacola, Florida has Wednesday Evening Fellowship that begins with a congregational dinner at 5:30pm. At 6:30pm, Ages 4 – 5th grade gather for a variety of activities centered around faith in practice, Youth Fellowship meets and a Bible Study is held for adults. Once a month, all gather for Pot-Luck and Praise in which all gather together for singing.
  • Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Saint Charles, Illinois offers a special mid-week program for children in grades K through 5 called Adventure Club which works in close cooperation with the children’s choirs and follows a rotational format that explores a Bible lesson through drama, arts & crafts, study and games. This program is growing into an alternative to regular Sunday School classes for families with busy schedules and as an enrichment opportunity for students enrolled in Sunday School. It also features low cost healthy meals for children and families and after the meal time an opportunity for prayer, meditation and worship under candlelight in the sanctuary.
  • St. John’s Episcopal Church in Columbia, South Carolina offers Wednesday Night Suppers and Formation. The evening begins with a 4:30pm Holy Eucharist and children’s music and rhythm classes, followed by Christian formation classes for all ages. A family supper begins at 6:00pm, with additional adult formation and youth bible study at 6:30pm. Choir practice is a 7:pm.

How might these ideas prompt you to change your church’s pattern of offering education?

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